Cancer-Related Financial Toxicity — Solving a Crisis Hiding in Plain Sight
“We lost our house. I couldn’t afford it anymore. We had to move to a smaller place. There were times when I thought my car would be repossessed or I would sell anything I could just to make sure my children had food and bills were paid,” says Amanda, mom of cancer-fighter Travis.
Amanda is one of thousands across the United States experiencing cancer-related financial toxicity (CRFT). Cancer cuts many household incomes in half, or even by 100%, as patients and caregivers put careers on hold because of treatment needs. This, paired with an increase in expenses due to treatment, often results in financial insecurity, bankruptcy and, as a result, poor adherence to treatment. Put simply, CRFT adversely impacts a patient’s chances of survival.
Financial Treatment Program
Since 1996, Family Reach has been on the frontlines with families in the throes of CRFT. We launched the Financial Treatment Program (FTP) in 2018 in response to Vice President Biden’s call for action within the cancer community. The FTP is a comprehensive, solutions-oriented approach to CRFT and zeroes in on four areas crucial for financial health — education and awareness, financial navigation, financial planning and financial assistance. It’s designed to reach families at the start of cancer treatment and lead to systemic change in the way CRFT is addressed today. In the program’s first year:
● 5,000 families received our Financial Handbook
● 1,961 families received direct financial assistance
● 126 families were paired with a Certified Financial Planning® professional
● 556 families worked alongside our financial navigators to access critical financial services (applying for co-pay assistance, donated hotel stays, etc.)
We cannot solve CRFT alone. We launched the LiFT Network in 2018 to unite like-minded nonprofits and provide access to the financial tools and resources we’ve developed over the past two decades. Starting this spring, members will gain access to a digital hub where they can share best practices, swap data and receive marketing tools. They’ll also have the opportunity to partner with Family Reach on program delivery, leveraging a well-developed financial assistance program while alleviating their own programmatic and operational costs.
Thanks to the support of the Biden Cancer Initiative, the LiFT Network has already gained attention from nonprofits such as the Bradley Charles Cooper Foundation and Devon Stills’ organization, Still Strong.
A tangible difference
The moms, dads, sisters and brothers we serve are the “why” behind every new initiative. We grew from an organization strictly focused on financial assistance to one dedicated to education and financial planning because our families said they needed it. We listen, and we take action.
“Family Reach was there without question,” says Leslie, wife to cancer-fighter Michael. “They helped us stay in our home and provide for our children during such a critical time while Michael was in treatment.”